I promised a little while ago that I'd be putting together a post all about running- and here it finally is! Since I started running about two years ago, I've noticed a definite difference in myself overall, from having more energy to feeling more balanced, and although it can seem a pretty intimidating exercise routine to take up, if you can stick with it then the benefits are huge. So, here, without any further ado, are my top running tips:
1) Get Equipped!
As I mentioned in my last couple of fitness posts, getting yourself properly equipped is essential. When I started running I just used whatever trainers I had lying around and threw on some old clothes, and looking back it was fine for getting started- after all you don't want to shell out a small fortune if running isn't for you. However, once you've got the bug I can't recommend investing in the right equipment strongly enough- a good pair of supportive trainers are a must, as is a decent sports bra. Your local running shop should be able to advise you on picking the right pair of shoes for the type of running you do, and it's worthwhile thinking about the technology behind the design too- for me the Nike Free Runs are perfect as they offer plenty of support without feeling too heavy, and the flexible sole is ideal for adapting to lots of different terrain- whether it be the pavement or grass. Don't be afraid of splashing out on a good sports bra either- next to your trainers it will prove money well spent in the long run.
2) Plan, plan, plan
If you're starting running as a beginner then it's definitely a really good idea to put pen to paper and dedicate specific space in your diary to running. Whether it's first thing on a Sunday morning and a couple of times in the week, having a plan of when you want to get a run in is really great at helping you to ease into a routine as well as helping you get quite disciplined about it too. When I started running and found that I a) actually quite enjoyed it and b) wasn't keeling over every five minutes, I found it massively helpful to plan my week out to accommodate exercising- even if you only manage to squeeze in half an hour here and there it's better than sitting on the sofa. Also, getting out in the fresh air regularly once you've started is a great way to ensure that you keep building up your strength, helping you go a little bit further or run a little faster all of the time.
So many people I speak to about running who are not runners always ask me a lot of the same questions. The most common is 'What if someone you know sees you?!' My reply is usually the same- I'm normally not really that aware of anyone else. When you've got your earphones in and are more concerned about keeping going, saying 'hi' to your next door neighbour's granny across the road becomes much less of a priority than just carrying on. Also, don't over think running too much. If you're umming and aahing about whether you need to go for a run or should venture outside because the sky looks a little bit threatening, just whack on your trainers and go for it. You'll feel much better for it. In terms of pacing, I deliberately don't record how quickly I run- other than looking at what time it is when I leave home and when I get back. Although there are some amazing Apps which you can download if you want to measure your progress (such as Couch to 5k and RunKeeper), for me a huge part of running is being able to switch off from everything, so I deliberately don't take my phone with me. I've found that I can usually judge my progress quite well from how my legs are holding up and by how tired I am, and you'll be surprised at how much your body can tell you about the gains which you're making. Having said that, I do like to measure how far I've run once I'm home- Map My Run is a really great resource for this, especially if you want to try some new routes or set distance goals. For a beginner, I would also say it's imperative not to become too fixated with running 'quickly' or covering a certain distance without stopping. There's nothing wrong with taking the pressure off and walking for a little while if you're feeling tired, and as you progress you'll find yourself gradually developing more stamina.
4) Get Inspired
Ok, so you might not be rivaling Mo Farah in the speedy marathon stakes (yet!), but there's no harm in getting inspired by others, whether it's the bunch of friends who you jog around the park with or Olympic athletes. Whenever I'm lacking a bit of motivation, having a little browse on Pintrest or Instagram definitely helps- my favourite accounts to follow are Nike Women, Nike Running and Beach Yoga Girl. Speaking of yoga, don't be afraid to switch up your workout and take a break from running every so often- taking part in some less impactful activity is really beneficial in the long run. Fitness Blender and Sean Vigue Fitness are some of my most visited channels on Youtube, and I'd definitely recommend giving them a watch if you're looking for something to add a little bit of variety for your routine.
5) Run To The Beat
This is entirely down to personal preference, but I find that music is a massive motivator when it comes to exercise. For me, listening to music when I run is essential- not only does it give you a really good sense of tempo, but it's really great in helping in letting you switch off and relax. Whether you're a fan of 80s classics, love a bit of Jay Z or are just happy to get a jog on to the beat of some vintage Destiny's Child, load up your favourites before you go running and you'll be well away. (Although if you're anything like me you might scare one or two dog walkers with some very dubious lip synching...) Having said that, if you're lucky enough to have some quiet countryside surrounding you (like I am), then sometimes it's really great to switch off the noise and just enjoy the peace and quiet.
This might sound silly, but smiling when you're running does make a difference. I'm not talking about plastering a demented grin all over your face the whole time, but just having a little smile to yourself once or twice during your run really helps to lift you and make you conscious of the overall benefits which you're reaping from it. Running outside and getting plenty of fresh air (for free!) is such a mood booster, and even if you're finding it tough going, thinking positively really helps you to push through.
If you have any running or general fitness tips, feel free to share them in the comments section!
(Image credit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.)